I’ve noticed recently that I seem to be missing some things. Not big things, like paying my bills or getting projects done that make me money and feed my family. I never seem to have trouble hitting the big stuff that keeps my life going and stable. I’m pretty good at adulting, honestly. I get things done, I get them done on time, and I make sure all of my bases are covered.
It stands to reason, then, that I should be a confident, high-functioning individual with nothing to really complain about. The problem is, I keep going through these cycles where I’ll feel really down about myself, or about my work, or about life in general. It didn’t really line up; I have two successful career endeavors and a beautiful family. What was I missing?
The answer, I found, was nothing. I didn’t have enough nothing.
That might sound strange, but I was missing empty space from my life. Not just empty space, but unproductive empty space. Things that I really enjoyed were falling off. I hadn’t read a good fiction book in months. Music, my first love in life, had become a side thing that wasn’t worth spending my time on because it wasn’t part of the things that made my life “successful.” I played video games every once in a while, but even that had started to seem like work - I am in the industry after all.
So what would happen is that I would finish the tasks that I wanted to do in any given day, and I’d have all this unplanned, weird empty space that I would feel pressure to make productive. As a result, I would spend time clicking around on the internet, checking Facebook or Twitter, and altogether taking the gift of nothing and wasting it trying to find ways to turn nothing into something.
At the end of those little sessions of completely wasted time, I would start to feel like I was a waste of time.
It wasn’t so much about having time to stare out into space and contemplate the Monomyth or existential philosophy. It was about allowing myself to frigging relax. Since coming to LA, I found myself always on full-throttle. But there isn’t always something to go full-throttle on. During those times, I didn’t pull that throttle back, and instead just ended up burning a lot of fuel for no reason.
Since I functioned so well off scheduling, I started doing something interesting lately. I put a block in my calendar, from 1-2PM the next day “Music: Work on Theophany’s Deku Tree track.”
Did he get the tracks that I promised him the next day? Hell yes he did.
All of a sudden, I had permission! I’d given it to myself. It was in my calendar, so that meant it had to be done. I’d tricked my brain into believing that the stuff that I enjoyed, that brought me no real business or monetary gain, was in fact just as productive as the session with Toyota before it.
Over the next week, I was able to channel that high powered, get-things-done attitude and put it towards things that made me happy. Things like spending time with my daughter, or practicing saxophone, or literally just a half hour block in between sessions labeled “Chill the F*** out.”
So if you’re having a tough time where you feel a bit purposeless - if that Type A personality of yours is turning into a Type A insanity - give scheduling your day a bit better a shot. Having an open schedule for me, where work could invade at any time, wasn’t good for me. It meant that work was going on ALL THE TIME, even if there was no work to do. Not a great way to go through your day.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost 4:00 and my calendar demands that I continue playing Legend of Heroes, Trails of Cold Steel.